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Augusta National: When “Tradition” = Justified Discrimination

posted by One Sport Voice
Friday, April 6, 2012 at 12:55pm EDT

Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi: This blog reflects my critical eye and voice on all things sport. I am a critical thinker, scholar, and researcher in girls & women in sport, youth sport, and coach & sport parent education.

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I’ve been following the story of IBM CEO Virginia Rometty and the Augusta National green jacket/membership controversy.

In short, IBM is a long time sponsor of The Masters golf tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club which bans women from membership. Traditionally, the CEO of IBM dons the champion “green jacket” and is given a club membership. Not this year. Instead of changing their rules to allow Rometty a green jacket and membership, the men in power at Augusta chose to continue their “tradition” of discrimination. In addition, IBM remained silent.

Dr. Martha Burk wrote a great column in Women’s e-News titled “To IBM: Women Saw That” about why this matters. She writes, “Much of the argument centered on whether the club had the “right to remain private” (translate “engage in discrimination at will”).”

Burk makes two great points.

1. This is not about golf, it is about power relationships.

2. IBM’s silence endorses the gender discrimination against their female CEO

Ironically as I write this blog I’m listening to Alice Eagly, PhD (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) co-author of Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders on NPR and President Obama is holding the White House Forum on Women in the Economy.


In terms of gender equality, It is clear that IBM, Augusta National have missed a key opportunity and left the putt short.

Even more ironic is the headline of a Washington Times story titledThe Masters 2012: IBM’s Virginia Rometty overshadows Tiger Woods” as if to suggest it is incredulous that a female could and IS taking the spot light away from a male.

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There are 3 comments on this post. Join the discussion!

Crimson says:

Dr LaVoi - You're not getting it and neither is Burk. She's been beating this drum for a decade and Augusta doesn't care. This may be difficult for people that exist primarily via the public coffers to understand, but the term Private Club actually means something to many people. Your real or perceived rights don't trump those of the members of Augusta.

The bottom line is that if you and your friends could have sued Augusta under some obtuse government rule or guideline you would have done so years ago. Fortunately there isn't one (yet) and you can't.

I guess it's difficult to fault someone that has no clue as to the environment in which real business works. IBA gains much more as a sponsor of The Masters than Augusta. If you or your friends think that Augusta would have a problem finding a replacement main sponsor you are wrong. Just because you speak loudly doesn't make your right it just means you speak loudly.

The bigger issue here is the fact that so much ink has been wasted on this story throughout the women's sports world during the past several weeks. It's unfortunate you ladies are not able to focus and prioritize issues that actually matter to female athletes health and success but instead continue to want to try to take away the rights of citizens to gather privately. A bit of introspection may be in order.

Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 11:35am EDT

Resident_Badass says:

Crimson - By 'obtuse rules' are you referring to the human right of gender equality? And why is it that our 'real or perceived rights don't trump those of the members of Augusta' but their membership trumps OUR rights? The CEO of IBM not only has the right to represent her company at its events but it is her job. If Augusta was only open to WHTE men (which is not exactly far fetched) and the CEO of IBM were a black man is not his right as a citizen of the United States to be allowed into that club? Why is it any different with a woman? Why is it not okay to say Whites over here and blacks over there but we CAN say men over here and women over there?

By the way, the reason some speak loudly is because they are being discriminated against and everyday they hear the world telling them to their face - you're not welcome here. If this is what happened to you everyday I think you would raise your voice every now and again as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 6:56pm EDT

Crimson says:

Please save your social justice lecture for someone that's buying it. I'm not. This is an individual rights issue. These guys have the right to have a private club and you and your friends don't have the right to force your way in. Our legal system agrees.

Framing it as social justice so you can force your politics on folks that have different views is a pretty standard strategy for many of you. It's exceptionally cool that the Augusta Members are not being intimidated by the professional gender panderers. Good for them.

If IBM and / or Rometty don't like it they can vote with their feet. By the way, if this is such a huge deal I wonder why we aren't hearing some groundswell of indignation from the LPGA? Probably because they also respect the right of Augusta to have a private club.

Frankly it seems the only people with a problem with it are the standard gender malcontents that continue to complain that women aren't being treated fairly in spite of the 1000% increase in participation during the Title IX era.

So that whole "woe is me" attitude really doesn't play too well out in the real world, although I see it is still very fashionable in much of academia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 12:47pm EDT

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